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Local church breaks tradition on Ash Wednesday

Stacey Spivey
News
Wednesday, March 5, 2014 - 6:09pm

Saint Matthews Episcopal Church in Henderson is one of several churches in the nation that's participating in "Ashes to Go." Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of lent, and the Henderson church is breaking tradition by taking service to the streets. "We will greet everyone in the name of the Lord. People live very busy lives and the church does not have to stay inside the building, we can go out to the people," said Reverend Patsy Barham. They spent an hour on Wednesday afternoon imposing the ashes on people, and saying a prayer to anyone who came up to them.

Barham wanted to touch the lives of East Texans, no matter their religious background. She also wanted to give all the glory to God, and said "we're not asking people to look at us, St. Matthews particularly, that we're doing something, its what God's doing in the other persons life."

Jane Wilhite and Rosemary Walton were enjoying their afternoon in downtown Henderson when they saw two pastors from a local church offering a blessing of ashes to the community. Wilhite said, "This just caught me so off guard," but she thought it was a great idea. "I think it definitely reminds us, like I said, of what the season is and how fortunate we are and how blessed we are to be able to do this...and that we don't have to go to church to do it...that someone is here for us all of the time," said Wilhite and Walton.

Ash Wednesday is the first day of lent, a 40-day period of prayer and fasting. People often give up something, or take on something leading up to Easter Sunday. Lent represents the forty days Jesus spent in the desert fasting, and enduring temptation from the devil.

"Ashes to Go" was started in Chicago and quickly spread across the nation.  St. Matthew's had seen an article online about, and decided to participate in it this year.

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